A Tribute to James Hillman: Reflections on a Renegade Psychologist

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Nov 2, 2014 8:23:00 PM

The texts and inspiration behind the newest publication on James Hillman.

hillman_front_cover_edited-6A Tribute to James Hillman: Reflections on a Renegade Psychologist, eds. Jennifer Leigh Selig and Camilo Francisco Ghorayeb. Mandorla Books, 2014. Print.

A guest post by Dr. Jennifer Selig

In mid-March, 2013, nearly two hundred people gathered in Campinas, Brazil, to honor both the recent passing and the ongoing legacy of James Hillman, the founder of archetypal psychology—or as he preferred to be called, in his own words, a renegade psychologist. The event was a true meeting of North and South, Hillman’s favorite psychological nodes, with speakers from Pacifica Graduate Institute in California joining with speakers from Brazil, two cultures united in their mutual respect, admiration, and commitment to carrying forward the calling of this true maverick of a man. The speakers were amongst Hillman’s family, his friends, his peers, and his students, those who knew him only through his textual body and those who attended his body by his bedside during his last hours. The result was an intimate, unforgettable, and engaging exchange, sparked by the ten presentations gathered in this text for the first time in English. 

Six of the essays in this book were written by Pacifica folks. Stephen Aizenstat’s essay “Honoring James Hillman” focuses on Hillman’s love for the anima mundi, and Stephen’s concern about how technology, in particular screen time, may be keeping us from tending to the anima mundi. Edward Casey’s essay “James Hillman: Philosophical Intimations” explores Hillman’s philosophical bent, and ends by suggesting that Hillman’s writings suggest a new discipline, that of “psycho-philosophy.” In Safron Rossi’s essay “From Attic, to Basement and In Between,” she shares her reflections on the three visits she made to Hillman’s home in Thompson, Connecticut toward the end of his life, to gather his “textual body” and bring it home for the Opus Archives. My essay, “’Dear James’: The Academic Crush and the Arc of Influence” is the most personal of the essays, as I toggle between a letter I wrote to James before his death and the response he wrote back to me, along with my reflections about my “academic crush” on the man which was one of both beauty and terror. Glen Slater’s essay,  “The Archetypal ‘Method’: Reflections on James Hillman’s Approach to Psychological Phenomena” argues that while archetypal psychology may indeed have a method, despite Hillman’s instance otherwise, it’s not one that can be “easily extracted” from Hillman’s work or even easily applied, but rather, “it must be lived into.” And finally, Mary Watkins’ essay “Hillman and Freire: Intellectual Accompaniment by Two Fathers” explores the similarities between the archetypal psychologist and the social activist, arguing that though they never met and didn’t use the same language, there are remarkable similarities in their sensitivities and sensibilities.

A special guest at the event was Hillman’s son Laurence Hillman, who delivered a talk titled “Archetypal Astrology: An Introduction.” Laurence is an archetypal astrologist himself; a footnote to his talk provides a link to the only recording of Laurence and his father, captured during a conference titled “Venus in America.”

There are three essays from Brazilian authors. Lunalva Fiuza Chagas is a Jungian analyst who shared “Tribute Opening Comments,” giving some history of how the conference came to be held in Brazil. Camilo Francisco Ghorayeb, himself a student at Pacifica, was the main “imaginator” behind the conference, and his essay “Within Imaginal Distance: Tribute to James Hillman in Brazil” discusses the importance of closing the imaginal distance between the US and Brazil through this particular conference, offering insights into the Brazilian psyche along the way. And Gustavo Barcellos, himself a noted Jungian analyst credited with bringing archetypal psychology to Brazil, contributed both the opening editorial and the essay “Slightly at Odds: James Hillman’s Therapy,” the latter focusing on aspects of a Hillmanian approach to therapy, including some aspects that are most interesting to Brazilians.

I hope you’ll check out this one of a kind volume dedicated to one of Pacifica’s patron saints and a renegade psychologist.


Jennifer Selig, Ph.D. is faculty and former chair of the Jungian and Archetypal Studies specialization at Pacifica. Based primarily on the work of C. G. Jung and James Hillman, the Jungian and Archetypal Studies program takes depth psychology out of the clinical consulting room into the world at large, critically exploring a range of topics central to our understanding of the role of the unconscious psyche in human experience.


Topics: James Hillman, clinical psychology, Jungian & Archetypal Studies